Unpaid business rates: Councils send bailiffs to 222 properties every day
Over 81, 000 business premises were visited by bailiffs last year over unpaid business rates, an investigation has revealed.
Under the rights of a Freedom of Information request, real estate advisor Altus Group received details from all councils in England on how many business premises had been referred to bailiffs now known as Enforcement Officers between 1 April 2017 and 3 March 2018.
Out of 353 councils in England, 264 provided details, covering 83% of all commercial properties.
Bailiffs by council
? Birmingham City Council 3, 864 referrals
? Manchester City Council 2, 667 referrals
? Liverpool, Coventry, Hounslow and Brent Councils all over 1, 000 referrals
The data showed that, on average, bailiffs were sent to 222 business owners every day in the first year since business rates revaluation. In total, 67, 705 instructions were made to bailiffs.
Altus Group claimed that changes to small business rate relief had seen more owners struggle to pay bills than the previous year.
After a Liability Order has been obtained, bailiffs are instructed by local authorities?to collect a debt on their behalf to recover unpaid business rates. Bailiffs can enter premises to seize goods and sell those at public auction, with the proceeds used to settle the debt, a process known as “distress”.Read more about business rates:
Robert Hayton, head of UK business rates at Altus Group, explained why local authorities had accelerated their pursuit of unpaid bills.
“Councils are taking enforcement action much earlier since their finances became more aligned to business rates income, ” he said.
“This sometimes leads to companies with manifestly incorrect demands receiving summonses and facing enforcement action. The problem is also exacerbated by understaffing within some councils and the inordinate delays that this creates in dealing with ratepayers.”
Businesses in England could face a rates hike of 759m next year, Altus Group has predicted, with the inflation measure used to calculate business rates set to change.
Over the last 10 years, business owners have seen rates increase by a third, or 6.04bn. Business rates income is expected to reach 24.8bn in England this year.
Praseeda Nair is the editorial director of Business Advice, and its sister publication for growing businesses, Real Business. She's an impassioned advocate for women in leadership, and likes to profile business owners, advisors and experts in the field of entrepreneurship and management.
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